Tracy Reese

Becoming Tracy Reese

We started this Becoming interview series in 2019 after reading Michelle Obama’s book of the same name. We wanted to hear from women in different walks of life and how they were approaching creativity, career goals, and more–mostly the WHY and HOW beneath it all. It’s been amazing to conduct these interviews and get a “behind the scenes” look at so many inspirational women! You can see them all here.

This time we’re highlighting the amazing Tracy Reese, who, consequently, has dressed Michelle Obama (see here!). Tracy is the colorfully stylish fashion designer of Hope for Flowers, who I first fell in love with in an Anthropologie store in the 2000s. I bought a bright tomato red/orange coat with fur on it and wore it nearly every day in grad school. I looked up her name and soon realized that I loved EVERYTHING that she did.

Fast forward to 2021 when I got to do an Instagram Live for our craft along painting nativity sets together. She is the MOST fun and dare I say my new BFF? Ha! If I could get to Detroit and work for her I would!

Scroll down to read more about her and her empowering approach to fashion.

Becoming Tracy Reese

Hi, I’m Tracy Reese! I’ve been designing clothes for more than three decades. My previous brands were Tracy Reese and Plenty by Tracy Reese. In 2019, I launched Hope for Flowers. Hope for Flowers is designed for women who are inspired by beauty and desire to use their power as consumers to be agents for positive change in the world. We believe that by incorporating positive social and ecological practices into our sourcing and operating structures, we can imbue our products with greater substance and offer our customers an opportunity to be a part of doing good while looking good.

I launched Hope for Flowers in Detroit, because I saw an opportunity to learn more about my home town and add value to my community.

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?

I consider myself a designer, but I’ve always thought more like a business person. I love illustrating, making art and crafting, but I don’t always prioritize making time to just…play! I need to. It’s where some of the best ideas start!

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

I grew up in Detroit and had a wonderful childhood here. My parents were very involved in my and my sisters’ development, especially my Mom who was a modern dance teacher and later had a small business of her own. She was also an avid home sewer and taught me to sew. My sisters and I all had to take piano and dance lessons and we got to choose other activities we wanted to participate in. I always had art classes on Saturdays and I had to take swimming and tennis lessons because I was chubby and my Mom wanted to make sure I exercised. I was a girl scout from Brownies through Cadets and loved summer camp!

I went to a great city-wide high school here in Detroit called Cass Tech and that’s where I was first exposed to the fashion industry and was encouraged to attend Parsons School of Design in New York for College.

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

I imagined becoming an architect or interior designer. I wanted a profession that allowed to express my creativity.

Is there a person who has been influential in your chosen career path?

A head of the Fashion department at my high school actually encouraged me to consider fashion design as a profession.

What sparked your interest in design/making?

It was what I considered the best of two worlds: drawing and sewing! When I learned that fashion was also a huge industry, my decision to pursue fashion design as a career was made!

What is your design process like?

I’ve always loved color, pattern and beautiful textiles. I often begin a season looking at the latest developments at industry textile fairs. I also check out museum exhibitions and art galleries for inspiration. I start building a mood board with images I find inspiring and develop a color story. I love developing prints because we can express almost any thought, or color inspiration. Nature is the ultimate inspiration. I LOVE flowers! Once I have established a direction, I start sketching, trying out new ideas and updating ideas that have already been successful. Editing is the hardest part of the process.

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

I’ve always been inspired by the work of other female designers and artists. I think women clothing designers approach design in a much more tangible and respectful way. We want to problem solve for real world situations while still creating beautiful pieces. I love the work of Callot Soeurs, Madame Gres, Claire McCardell and so many others.

We would love to hear about Hope For Flowers. Can you tell us more?

As a world-class, Black-owned and female-run business, Hope for Flowers is demonstrating that Detroit can be the perfect hub for innovative, socially focused, sustainable enterprises.

Hope for Flowers is committed to creating beautiful clothing for socially conscious luxury consumers through an ecosystem of responsible design, production and distribution in Detroit. We support the livelihood and sustainability of Detroit’s children and families by being a local hub for arts enrichment, apprenticeships and community workshops focused on sustainable life tools.

The collection itself is quite feminine and joyful. I tend to stick to classic silhouettes reimagined familiar shapes to be modern and relevant for designer Tracy Reese

You can find Tracy Reese

Hope for Flowers website
Read more about her in this New York Times article (I relate so much to her switch up in her business model!)


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